Japanese hip-hop Queen Awich has revealed the video for “The Union”, the title track from her recently released album.
Directed by Hideto Hotta, the video was shot in Awich’s hometown of Okinawa. The dance performed in the video represents an important part of Okinawan culture which stems from when Okinawa was its own country called Ryukyu Kingdom. When the Japanese took over, the people were condemned to practice anything representing the original culture. That included art, martial arts, tattoos, music, and more. The dance Awich performs in the video was originally a style of martial arts that was then disguised as a dance. Years later, after WWII, Okinawa was placed under the control of the United States until 50 years ago when Okinawa was returned to Japan.
In addition to the nod to Okinawa’s history and stunning visuals, the video also gives a glimpse into the mind of Japan’s biggest hip-hop star and features her daughter Toyomi.
The Union’ is her latest album since her previous LP ‘Queendom’ was released on March 4, 2022 and ‘United Queens EP’ that was released earlier this year, which included an all-female set of featured artists. Fans can listen to ‘The Union’ here: music.empi.re/theunion
“Her hard-knocking and relentless sonic outlook of female empowerment has made her a predominant figure of Asian women in rap and a bridge between the
musical landscape of the East and West.”
“queen of Japanese Hip-Hop here to put a flag, marking her place in the culture.”
Awich, short for “Asia Wish Child,” taken from her birth name “Akiko,” is a name she created to reflect her roots. A child growing up on her home island of Okinawa, Awich would stay up through the night writing poetry about varieties of things such as love, life, the universe, and more. Her first encounter with hip-hop was listening to Tupac’s ‘All Eyez on Me’ when she was 13 and began writing rhymes and learning to rap. By the time she turned 14, she was rapping and recording on cassette tapes. She relocated to Atlanta to attend college and during her time stateside, she married and gave birth to her daughter. In 2011, her husband was murdered which led Awich to return to Japan with her young daughter in tow, having to deal with the aftermath of this tragedy. The intense process of introspection during this period was cathartic and helped her to find profound meaning in life, love and forgiveness.
Awich has since risen above her circumstances and channelled her experiences into art, evolving into the “badass female rapper” (Flaunt Magazine) that we see today. She flows freely between English, Japanese and Okinawan, enchanting millions of fans with her deep vocals and effortless cadence.
Earlier this year she performed at the very first iteration of Rolling Loud Thailand alongside artists like Cardi B, Lil Uzi Vert, and many more. Not only is she known as Japan’s hip-hop queen – Awich’s status as a fashion icon also reigns supreme. She has been featured on international outlets such as VOGUE, Hypebae, GQ, Harper’s Bazaar and more.
Following the release of ‘The Union’, Awich will be releasing an album in English in early 2024 with US touring to follow.